Warning: The following article contains spoilers for New Mutants: War Children #1 by Chris Claremont, Bill Sienkiewicz, Chris Sotomayor and VC's Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
The new X-Men one-shot New Mutants: War Children has a powerful nostalgia factor working in its favor, but that doesn't mean everything is out with the new and in with the old. The title is a reunion not only for veteran creators Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz, but also a reunion for the first generation of X-Men trainees in a story that flashes back to the teenage years of these future X-Men. However, it also has a sly reference to the X-Men's ongoing relaunch in House of X and Powers of X.
New Mutants: War Children takes place during the time of the original New Mutants series, shortly after "The Asgardian Wars" storyarc. This special finds the titular team as fresh-faced teenagers learning to navigate their adolescence and their superpowers simultaneously. This story catches up with the young mutants long before Cannonball became a space-faring Avenger, Sunspot went toe-to-toe with the Red Hulk or Wolfsbane became a nigh-invulnerable demigoddess.
While Doug Ramsey has the powers to understand any language, those powers aren't always useful in combat. However, in this issue, Sunspot inadvertently teases Doug's apparent future by asking him if he can speak with plants while they're searching for Warlock in a forest.
Cypher says he doesn't know, and the question seems moot as he proceeds to track the trail left by Warlock. However, that line takes on a very different context in the age of House of X.
While Charles Xavier has formed an independent nation of mutants on the sentient island Krakoa. Their residency on the island is made possible only by their communication with the island, and that communication is made possible only through Cypher.
As Jonathan Hickman and R.B. Silva's Powers of X #4 established, Cypher was the first mutant Xavier brought to the island, where he spent a bit of time learning how to best communicate with Krakoa, figuring out ways for other mutants to communicate with Krakoa and developing a unique language that's physically instilled in every mutant.
The former New Mutant is the key to the Krakoan culture and society in a new nation that recently gained U.N.-recognized statehood. He even serves on the Quiet Council that serves as the nation's political figureheads. While the seemingly lackluster power would not seem so special next to energy-spewing-eyes or steel musclemen, a little creativity in their application is all it takes to make it immensely effective.
House of X is not the first time Cypher's powers have been stretched to some unconsidered dimension before, either. Over the years his mastery of languages has allowed him to read body language for proficiency in hand-to-hand combat, perceive distortions in reality, and even try his hand at magic and spellcraft. The flashback that War Children provides serves as a reminder of just how far the character has come, and its reference to House of X shows that writers can keep moving him forward, even while looking back.